• Class Number 9545
  • Term Code 3060
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Peter Whiteford
    • Peter Whiteford
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 27/07/2020
  • Class End Date 30/10/2020
  • Census Date 31/08/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 03/08/2020
SELT Survey Results

This course aims to provide an introduction to the main principles of social policy in a comparative context as a foundation for further studies in the social policy area. It discusses the parameters of social policy and how social policy intersects with other aspects of government policy, such as labour policy, taxation policy and health policy. It analyses varying models of social welfare provision and social protection as well as fundamental policy issues, such as the merits of targeting versus universality, horizontal versus vertical equity, and rights-based versus discretionary entitlements. The course then considers social protection in the context of key groups of potential beneficiaries, including the unemployed, children and families, retirees, and the indigenous. Emphasis is on a comparative approach, comparing Australian social policy with that of other OECD countries and of other countries in the Asia and Pacific region.

Topics to be covered include:

  •  the boundaries of social policy
  • contrasting models of welfare and the welfare state
  • the intersections between economic and social policy
  • international comparisons
  • social policy priorities in developed and developing countries
  • demographics of ageing and fertility
  • poverty, inequality and adequacy
  • welfare reform
  • labour market assistance and the unemployed
  • children and family policy
  • work and family
  • sole parents and child support
  • age pension and retirement support
  • indigenous social policy
  • health and health insurance
  • the future of social policy

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On successful completion of this unit you will have:

  • demonstrated a working knowledge of key terms, concepts and ideas in the study of social policy and social protection
  • assessed the major political institutions and actors involved in the social policy process
  • demonstrated a knowledge of how social policy interacts with other areas of government policy, such as economic policy
  • considered the roles of values and alternative approaches in social policy
  • developed a capacity to analyse and assess alternative approaches to social policy interventions
  • reviewed the historical development of the social protection system in Australia and other countries
  • compared the Australian social protection system with those of other OECD nations as well as the approaches taken in developing countries
  • appraised various Welfare State models and their relevance to Australia and other countries
  • considered the social policy issues involved in assistance to categorical groups, such as the aged, families and the unemployed.
  • demonstrated the capacity to think independently in the field of social policy'
  • developed an understanding of the eclectic nature of social policy and the potential contribution of an array of alternative approaches and academic disciplines

Required Resources

The main textbook is the Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State - available online through the ANU library

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 30 July Course Outline Introduction to Principles of Social Policy: Confronting Global Challenges 9.00 –10.30 View Presentations online 10.30 - 12.00 Zoom meeting
2 6 August Lecture 2 Defining the Scope of Social Policy 9.00 –10.30 View Presentations online 10.30 - 12.00 Zoom meeting
3 13 August Lecture 3 The Histories of Social Policy From the Poor Law to the 19th Century 9.00 –10.30 View Presentations online 10.30 - 12.00 Zoom meeting
4 20 August Lecture - 4 The Histories of Social Policy (2) War and Social Policy Richard Titmuss and his contribution to Social Policy and Administration 9.00 –10.30 View Presentations online 10.30 - 12.00 Zoom meeting
5 27 August Lecture 5 Social Protection in its International Context Welfare State Regimes and Welfare State Models 9.00 –10.30 View Presentations online 10.30 - 12.00 Zoom meeting
6 3 September Lecture 6 : Global Social Policy: The Role of the ILO and the World Bank in Social Protection 9.00 –10.30 View Presentations online 10.30 - 12.00 Zoom meeting
7 24 September Lecture 7: Measuring Poverty Booth, Rowntree and Henderson The Poverty Wars 9.00 –10.30 View Presentations online 10.30 - 12.00 Zoom meeting
8 8 October Lecture 8: Inequality, nationally and globally Inclusive growth and human development 9.00 –10.30 View Presentations online 10.30 - 12.00 Zoom meeting
9 15 October Lecture 9: Population Ageing and Family Change 9.00 –10.30 View Presentations online 10.30 - 12.00 Zoom meeting
10 22 October Lecture 10: 9.00 –10.30 View Presentations online 10.30 - 12.00 Zoom meeting
11 29 October Lecture 11: Alternative Approaches Conditional Cash Transfers Internationally Basic Income, Guaranteed Income or Negative Income Tax: A Way Forward? 9.00 –10.30 View Presentations online 10.30 - 12.00 Zoom meeting
12 5 November Lecture 12: Policy Implementation The Art and Craft of Policy development and Advice 9.00 –10.30 View Presentations online 10.30 - 12.00 Zoom meeting

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
First Essay 3,000 words 50 % 18/09/2020 05/10/2020 11/1/2018 12:00:00 AM
Final Essay 3,000 words 50 % 13/11/2020 * 11/1/2018 12:00:00 AM

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 18/09/2020
Return of Assessment: 05/10/2020
Learning Outcomes: 11/1/2018 12:00:00 AM

First Essay 3,000 words

Description of Assessment Tasks

Assessment is through two individual essays. The First Essay should not exceed 3,000 words and will comprise 50% of the assessment.  The First Essay is due by 11.55 p.m. on Friday 18 September.

First Essay

The First Essay is to be selected from one of the following  topics:

1.Meaning of Social Policy… 

What is meant by the term ‘social policy’? Does ‘social policy’ qualify as a unique discipline worthy of academic study in its own right? Is it more than a field of study? What do you consider to be the purpose of studying social policy? How has this area of study developed and what has been its contribution?

2.Richard Titmuss

Provide a critical review of the contribution to social policy and administration of the British academic Richard Titmuss. Did he make a unique contribution? In which areas did he make a particular contribution? What criticisms can be made about his approach and his analysis. Does his work have continuing relevance to the issues we now face?

3.Poverty Measurement

Discuss the different approaches that have been taken to the measurement of poverty. How has poverty been measured in Australia? What were the “poverty wars” in Australia between the two Professors Saunders? Did this debate contribute to our understanding of the issues involved in poverty measurement? How do you suggest poverty should be measured and why?

 4. Welfare Regime Models.

Please consider and discuss the Esping-Andersen typology of Welfare States and the criticisms that have been made of this methodology. Does this analysis have anything useful to tell us about comparative social policy in today’s world? Consider the relevance of this typology to either the Australian social protection system or to emerging social protection approaches in developing economies.

5 . Social Protection in Developing Countries

What is meant by the term social protection? What is the potential contribution of social protection to resolving the problem of poverty and vulnerability in developing countries? Illustrate by reference to a country (or countries) with which you are familiar.

6. Social Policy and War.

Discuss the development of social policy in Australia during WW2, particularly in the context of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Social Security. What was the contribution of this Committee? How significant were the reforms in the 1940’s? Is it time for another comprehensive review of the social security system in Australia?

Initial readings for both Essays will be as for the Class Reading list, with self-directed follow-up for further reading.

Assessment Criteria for Essays:

Understanding of key concepts and theories


  • Understanding of the theoretical and conceptual origins of an issue.
  • Understanding of relevant literature

Quality of critical analysis


  • Clearly articulated conceptual framework
  • Originality and creativity of reflection and analysis… 
  • Focus on analysis rather than description

Clarity of organisational structure, presentation and focus


  • Clear and logical development of argument
  • Clear and logical structure of paper
  • Clarity of expression
  • Spelling, word choice, grammar and punctuation

… Use of appropriate examples and/or data


  • Use of evidence to support argument
  • Accurate use of data
  • Choice of topics and issues
  • Selection of relevant materials

Appropriate and accurate use of sources


  • Accurate referencing
  • Relevance and breadth of use of literature
  • Critical use of academic and internet sources
  • Compliance with referencing and citation guide


Assessment Task 2

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 13/11/2020
Learning Outcomes: 11/1/2018 12:00:00 AM

Final Essay 3,000 words

The Final Essay should not exceed 3,000 words and will also comprise 50% of the assessment. The Final Essay is due by 11.55 p.m. on Friday 13 November. 

The Final Essay is to be selected from one of the following topics:

1.Social Pensions

Outline the advantages and disadvantages of non-contributory social pension schemes. Discuss the potential role of universal or selective programs. Consider in the context of the Australian system of social protection or in relation to another country of your choice.

2.Conditional Cash Transfers.

Consider and discuss the effectiveness of CCT Programs. Discuss the experience with CCT programs in a Country of your choice (or more than one Country if you prefer). What circumstances make for more successful application of CCT Programs?

3.Social Protection and the ILO and World Bank

Consider how the views of International Agencies (particularly the International Labour Office and the World Bank) have developed over time in the area of social protection. What was the basis of the conflict between these agencies and what impact did it have? With the recent adoption of the idea of social protection floors that guarantee minimum rates of income security are these conflicts likely to be reduced? How effective are these agencies in the development of social protection systems throughout the world? You may wish to illustrate your arguments by considering the experience of particular country or countries.

4. Universal Basic Income

There has been growing interest in various countries (e.g. Finland) in the possible introduction of Universal Basic Income (UBI) schemes. Discuss what is meant by Universal Basic Income, Guaranteed Minimum Income, Negative Income Tax and Demogrants. What problems are these schemes intended to address? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Do they offer a solution to current and emerging challenges e.g. technological change?

5.Policy Analysis and Implementation

Identify an example of social policy (in Australia or another country with which you are familiar) that is in need of reform. Students will need to identify why they have chosen this policy measure, outline its problems and then develop a practical course of action for improvement. An alternative policy measure would then be developed.

Students will need to draw on their understanding of the policy and administrative aspects of the existing arrangements, be analytical about explaining why it does not work and be creative in coming up with an improved approach.

Students need to explain why they think their proposal would lead to improvement, and need to consider financial aspects, a timetable and an implementation strategy (including whether the law needs to be changed, use of Information Technology, potential risks and how they might be mitigated, and program monitoring and evaluation arrangements).

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Peter Whiteford
02 6125 4295

Research Interests

Peter Whiteford

By Appointment
Peter Whiteford
02 6125 4295

Research Interests

Peter Whiteford

By Appointment

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